Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa has admitted that he wants to change the perception opponents have of him on the football field next season.
The 24-year-old enjoyed a standout campaign for Los Colchoneros in 2012-13 with a number of important goals, particularly in the second half of the season.
However, the term was also tinged with a number of clashes with opponents, including notably in games against Real Madrid, Real Betis and Sevilla.
For the forward, next season is an opportunity to show his true character.
“I am not the person that people think I am,” Costa reflected in an interview with AS today.
“The most important thing for me is my fans, teammates, my people, that they are with me.
“But it is true that at the end of some games I have felt a little bad. Sometimes even before we have started a game the insults will have begun.
“Maybe I have caused this myself and, somehow, I have to try to change it.
“Has Simeone spoken to me about it? The Coach has always had my attention and left with me, as with others, things made very clear.
“He has told me how far I can go, because I cannot harm the team. I have it very clear what I have to do. Simeone has placed his confidence in me and I cannot betray that.”
The Brazilian, who just under a fortnight ago achieved Spanish citizenship, turned his attention to next season, which he says he is able to prepare for in a mindset unique to him.
“Each year I have tried to keep improving, always with a fixed idea, to someday succeed with Atletico.
“Not only me, I think that this was the strength of group, that allowed it to bring happiness to the fans with the Copa del Rey win against Real Madrid. For me, that was the fruit of several years of work.
“It has given me peace of mind and the courage to work hard. There is no anxiety in thinking about what my future may hold.
“This is important for the work of a player. This is the first season where I will be aware of my future and it calms me and allows me to work, thinking only of what will be next season.
“Do I feel important in the team? Personally yes and I feel better able to help. I need that feeling, that weight, in order to prove my worth. But it is the group that makes you feel good, the unity is important as demonstrated by this team, this is how you feel important in the end.”
Next season will see Costa line up in attack alongside David Villa, who has come in as Radamel Falcao’s replacement.
“Villa is Villa. He is a born striker, tremendous, with many goals. He will easily account for the greatness that Falcao gave this group. El Tigre has been very important, he has helped the club to get to where it is today and Villa is another player with a big name, with experience and a guarantee. I hope to have a good understanding with him.
“What did I learn from Falcao? I learned a lot from him as a person, he is a 10. He came over and knew he was a star, the identity of Atletico, but he was a very humble person.
“I learned a lot in that aspect. He treated me the same as he did any kid coming up from the youth team to train with us. On the field, he has had that gift of God, that killer instinct.”